7 Ways to Keep Your Gadgets Secure While on Vacation

Philip Bates 26-06-2017

Going off on holiday is always great fun, but what do you do in your downtime? If there’s nothing good on TV, you’ve forgotten to bring a book 7 Tips to Help You Find Kindle Books to Read on Vacation Vacations provide the perfect opportunity to catch up on your reading, and a Kindle is the perfect traveling partner. The problem is finding the right Kindle books to read on vacation. Read More , or you’re chilling on the beach, you’ll likely have a smartphone or tablet to play with instead.


But how do you make sure it’s not stolen? And if it is, what can you do to retrieve it, and your data?

Here are a few ways to reduce the risks you take when taking a device on vacation with you.

1. Avoid Using Laptop Bags

Bags specially designed to carry laptops have proved particularly popular recently, partly as they’re also a good size to carry your tablet.

They’re a signpost to criminals, however. More often than not, a laptop bag in public signals that there’s something worth stealing inside.


Of course, you need to look after your bags no matter what: even securing them with a padlock is better than nothing. But the best thing to do is carry any devices on your person. That might mean keeping tablets in handbags or rucksacks, or wearing a fanny pack to hide your smartphone.

Judging by looks alone, “uglification” (the process of personalizing a possession The Art of Stopping Phone Thieves With Uglification Smartphone theft worldwide reached epidemic proportions in 2013, prompting manufacturers, like Samsung, to announce plans to create a device kill-switch. The kill-switch design will turn stolen phones into lifeless hunks of glass and plastic. Can... Read More to such an extent that others wouldn’t want it) may work, but you might not want to devalue a device that much. Instead, you could simply use a case or cover 5 Awesome Laptop Decoration Ideas: Stickers, Cases, and More Customizing your laptop doesn't have to be a chore. Here are some easy and inexpensive laptop decoration ideas. Read More that hides what it actually is — a fake book cover, for instance.

2. Simply Lock It

You should be doing this wherever you go regardless, but especially when you’re going somewhere you don’t know.


A passcode on your smartphone or tablet not only acts as a deterrent to potential thieves but also stops them getting access to your data if it is stolen.

Passcodes are a form of encryption, so your personal information is rendered unreadable 7 Reasons Why You Should Encrypt Your Smartphone Data Are you encrypting your device? All major smartphone operating systems offer device encryption, but should you use it? Here's why smartphone encryption is worthwhile, and won't affect the way you use your smartphone. Read More without one.

Though you’re advised not to use a birthday, if it’s a number you can easily remember, it’s at least better than something generic. Make sure you use a strong code, personal to you! Don’t pick 1234 or 1111 or anything similarly obvious. And yes, a code is more secure than a pattern Which Is More Secure, A Password Or a Pattern Lock? Our smartphones carry a lot of personal information. All of your text messages, emails, notes, apps, app data, music, pictures, and so much more are all on there. While it's a very great convenience to... Read More , so that’s preferable. A fingerprint is potentially even better Should You Use a Fingerprint or a PIN to Lock Your Phone? Should you protect your phone with a fingerprint or a PIN? Which one is actually more secure? Read More (no one can ever guess that), but it depends on your device and where you live.

If you fancy an extra security method, try downloading an app The 3 Best Apps to Catch the Person Who Tried to Unlock Your Phone These Android apps take pictures of people who try to unlock your phone and fail. Catch phone snoopers and thieves red-handed! Read More that utilizes the front-facing camera on your phone to take a photo of any false logins.


3. Enable Tracking

Keeping a device locked won’t help you to find it. Fortunately, tracking apps and features will.

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You can use the Find My iPhone function So Your iPhone Was Lost or Stolen? Here's What to Do If your iPhone was lost or stolen, here's how to locate, recover, and block your iPhone to protect your data. Read More on all Apple devices, enabling you to locate your smartphone, iPad (and variations), iPod Touch, Mac, Apple Watch, and even AirPods. You’ll simply need access to, which shows you a map and allows you limited remote control of your device. If your fellow travelers don’t have Wi-Fi, you can try an internet cafe or ask at your accommodation.

It’s not ideal, however. You need to have activated the Find My iPhone function, and your phone needs to have battery. Some thieves are smart enough to turn on Airplane Mode What Is Airplane Mode on iPhone? Everything You Need to Know What is Airplane Mode on iPhone? We explain what Airplane Mode does, when you should use it, and how it comes in handy. Read More , which cuts out all incoming signals, so you won’t be able to find it that way.


That’s why it’s so important to have a solid passcode.

Android offers similar features Was Your Android Phone Lost or Stolen? This Is What You Can Do There are many good options for remotely locating your stolen phone, even if you never set anything up before you lost your phone. Read More , notably Android Device Manager which also shows your device locations on a map Find My iPhone for Android? Meet Android Device Manager Jealous of the iPhone's Find My iPhone app? Well, lucky for you there's an equally awesome app for Android called the Android Device Manager! Let's take a look at it. Read More through the Manager dashboard.

4. Jot Down Important Numbers

A lot of this is damage limitation. Imagine your device was stolen: what information will you need?

Before you go, check out your phone’s International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI) What Is My Phone's IMEI? Here's What You Need to Know You might have heard the acronym “IMEI” and know it relates to the identity of your phone, but what exactly is it for? Read More number by typing in *#06# (iPhones display it on their backs, and you can further find it, as with Android devices, in Settings). It’ll be a handy identifier if a stolen device is returned to the police How to Return a Lost Phone in Four Easy Steps Every year, millions drop their mobile into the unknown. In the US, about 50% of lost devices are returned to their owners. The rest get resold or reused – while thievery may seem eco-friendly and... Read More .

Also make a note of your network provider’s helpline phone number. You might already know this if you’ve had issues with your carrier before, but check there’s not a separate one for foreign travel.

That way, if your smartphone is stolen or permanently lost, you can contact your network and cancel your SIM card, meaning you won’t be charged for any calls made by someone else.

5. Make Regular Backups

In case your device is stolen, it’d be awful to lose all that data, especially if you have to make the ultimate sacrifice and remotely erase all personal information.

Before you leave for vacation, back up your device on your PC. This means you’ll definitely have a copy of what’s stored on it at home. But what about all those photos you’re bound to take while on your holiday?

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This is why you need to activate backups on-the-go, whether for your laptop NAS vs the Cloud: Which Remote Storage Is Right for You? Network Attached Storage (NAS) straddles the line between a local hard drive and cloud storage, and gives you the benefits of both. Read More or just for your phablet. For Apple users, you can rely on iCloud which is a way of storing your information online securely (at least in most cases). Even then, you might prefer to double-check your data is safe by using another service too.

Many use Dropbox, which acts as a storage space for your files, but a growing collection of images and videos could force you into using Dropbox Pro. It’s well worth your time shopping around for a system Safeguard Your Mac's Files With Remote Online Backups Time Machine is a great first line of defence, but the best way to keep your files safe is to use an off-site backup. Read More that gives you maximum space for minimum cost.

Every time you connect to the internet, you can automatically upload all your content to these cloud services What Is The Cloud? The Cloud. It's a term that gets thrown around a lot these days. What is the cloud, exactly? Read More , so if your hardware is compromised, at least your software is safe (again, depending on your passcode).

6. Insure Your Device

What about stolen hardware Five Ways a Thief Can Profit From Your Stolen Hardware Criminals steal your PC, your laptop, your smartphone, either by burglarising your house, or by snatching them from you. But then what happens? What can thieves do with your stolen tech? Read More ?

If you can’t recover your device, you’ll be without it until you get home. Fortunately, there is a way to limit your loss — but it’ll cost you.

Insurance isn’t for everyone Should You Buy Smartphone Insurance? What does smartphone insurance cover? What does it cost? And after all is said and done, is it worth it? Read More . You’ve got to weigh up the pros and cons. On one hand, you’re unlikely to have your smartphone or tablet stolen. On the other, you have peace of mind, and in most cases, it also covers accidental damage.

The most important factors to consider are:

Once you’ve checked all of that, it’s time to compare prices 5 Smartphone Insurance Plans That Provide the Best Value When a device is as important and as expensive as your smartphone, it probably makes sense to insure it against catastrophes. Read More and go for whichever sounds perfect for you.

7. Beware Public Wi-Fi Hotspots

Using public Wi-Fi abroad can save you considerable data roaming charges, so it’s understandable if you’re tempted by it. However, you need to be aware that these hotspots can be compromised 5 Ways Hackers Can Use Public Wi-Fi to Steal Your Identity You might love using public Wi-Fi -- but so do hackers. Here are five ways cybercriminals can access your private data and steal your identity, while you're enjoying a latte and a bagel. Read More and your data hijacked.

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Notably, scammers might set up fake connection or intercept your connection through a man-in-the-middle What Is a Man-in-the-Middle Attack? Security Jargon Explained If you've heard of "man-in-the-middle" attacks but aren't quite sure what that means, this is the article for you. Read More (MITM) attack.

That’s why you need a good form of encryption, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). It’s far from perfect Don't Believe These 5 Myths About Encryption! Encryption sounds complex, but is far more straightforward than most think. Nonetheless, you might feel a little too in-the-dark to make use of encryption, so let's bust some encryption myths! Read More , but it does at least give you some form of protection against cybercriminals. Also, look out for shoulder-surfers and Wi-Fi access points that don’t require passwords. Scammers may set up internet access with generalized names, so if you’re using a restaurant’s Wi-Fi, ask at the counter for its true name.

Heck, you’re susceptible to these types of scams no matter where you go. Let’s say, for example, that you’ve found accommodation via Airbnb A Traveler's Tales: How To Save Money On Your Next Trip With Airbnb We are always eager to cut costs while traveling. Hotels are expensive. Ludicrously so. But are there any alternatives? Until recently, the answer to that question was a loud ‘no' till AirBnB came along. Read More : either the homeowner or a previous guest could have hacked the network you’re using Security Threats All Airbnb Users Need to Know About It might offer flexible accommodation for good prices, but Airbnb can be a security nightmare for those renting. So what can you do about it? Read More .

Remember, cybercriminals exist in all countries!

Sit Back and Relax?

Of course, the other option is just to leave your device at home — after all, there are still ways to keep track of the world’s goings-on How to Get Your Recommended Daily Dose of News via Social Media What if we only got news from social media? What would we miss? How effective is relying on retweets and such to spread the word? And which feeds are best for the all-important headlines? Read More anyway.

But by adhering to these methods, you’ve got peace of mind that your phone or tablet is safe, and even if it does get stolen, you haveprepared counter-measures.

What other ways have you tried to keep your gadgets secure while away from home?

Image Credit: ARIMAG via

Related topics: Smartphone Security, Travel.

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